Berkeley CA—Still Part Of America, But “The Waves Are Lapping Higher All The Time”
People often ask me, a long-time
border advocate, how I can stand to live in
leftist Berkeley CA, surrounded by
so many loony America-haters.
And besides that, what about the worsening
Rick Oltman, who as a
grassroots organizer has seen a lot of demographic
change in the country, assures me that Berkeley will
island of English-speaking citizens in an
Mexicanized California. But the waves are lapping
higher all the time.
As a college town, home to one of the country`s most
highly rated public universities, Berkeley has deceptive
major industry is not about to box itself up and
move offshore. Housing is
expensive and keeps out the riff-raff.
Prop 13, the 1978 citizen revolt against
skyrocketing property taxes that was the granddaddy of
California initiatives, has served to keep many in
their houses also.
My best friend from college, who lived here in the
1970`s, recently moved back from
Austin, and said she liked how little Berkeley has
compared with central
Texas. Part of that situation is physical: the city
was built out by the 1920s, and has no place to
construct suburbs. There is the
San Francisco Bay on the west,
Tilden Park on the east and other towns north and
south. Preservationist ideas are strong, and people
appreciate the great
natural beauty all around.
A few years ago, the San Francisco Chronicle
presented a series of puff pieces about desirable Bay
Area neighborhoods, including mine. The sly hook about
one popular area: the large number of white people [Claremont-Elmwood:
Homogeneity in Berkeley? Well, yeah, by Rona
Marech, May 24, 2002].
Ms. Marech clearly sought out some black folks to
interrogate, perhaps hoping to discover some diversity
dissonance because of what the Chronicle deemed
excessive whiteness. However, the colorful persons
interviewed did not cooperate by complaining: all were
happy to live in a pleasant and safe area.
Berkeley, this state of affairs might be expected to
elicit a certain sheepishness or some frustration from
the small number of blacks, Asians and other nonwhites
who live here. But to the contrary, residents don`t seem
"`In my life, off the top
of my head, this is the No.1 or 2 place I`ve lived that
felt this comfortable and happy,` said Lynn Sykes,
who is African American. `Nothing in the world is more
important to me than safety. As long as I and my family
are safe, it could be 150 percent white.`”
The idea of diversity is applauded, but in
real life, people prefer not be
socially engineered according to
multicultural ideology. I`ve never heard anyone
express a desire for more diversity in the area either.
demographics of the city as a whole now show 61
percent white, with Asians second at 17 percent. To find
the real growth point of diversity within the city
limits, you have to go to the University.
Take a walk on the
UC Berkeley campus today, and you might think you
had wandered into China. It sure doesn`t look like
Mario Savio`s university, where he and others
engaged in the
Free Speech Movement on campus a few decades ago.
were not diverse.
New York Times` Timothy Egan noticed the same thing
in an article called
Little Asia on the Hill (Jan 7, 2007):
" `Here, many people
speak Chinese as their primary language," says Mr. Hu, a
sophomore. `It`s nice. You really feel like you don`t
“I ask Mr. Hu what it`s
like to be on a campus that is overwhelmingly Asian —
what it`s like to be of the demographic moment. This
fall and last, the number of Asian freshmen at Berkeley
has been at a record high, about 46 percent. The overall
undergraduate population is 41 percent Asian. On this
golden campus, where a creek runs through a redwood
grove, there are residence halls with Asian themes; good
dim sum is never more than a five-minute walk away;
heaping, spicy bowls of pho are served up in the Bear`s
Lair cafeteria; and numerous social clubs are linked by
common ancestry to countries far across the Pacific.
“Mr. Hu shrugs, saying
there is a fair amount of `selective self-racial
segregation,` which is not unusual at a university this
size: about 24,000 undergraduates. `The different ethnic
groups don`t really interact that much,` he says.
`There`s definitely a sense of sticking with your
community.` But, he quickly adds,
[I bet he does! BW]
`People of my generation don`t look at race as that big
of a deal. People here, the freshmen and sophomores,
they`re pretty much like your average American
“But as the only son of
professionals born in China, Mr. Hu fits the profile of
Asians at Berkeley in at least one way: they are
predominantly first-generation American. About 95
percent of Asian freshmen come from a family in which
one or both parents were born outside the United States.”
Emphasis added. In other words, recent immigration is
rapidly displacing long-time Californians from their top
public educational institution.
Interestingly, UCB`s Chancellor Robert Bergenau has
complained of a
"diversity crisis" on the Berkeley campus. He
completely ignores the success of Asian students, as if
they were some odd variety of whites.
UC Berkeley has plenty of diversity; it just doesn`t
correspond to the quota-driven palette popular in some
quarters. In the
2007 freshman class, 29.6 percent were Caucasian;
41.6 percent Asian, 11.7 percent Latino and 3.1 percent
black. Put another way, 70 percent were non-white. But
that`s not enough for the diversity police.
University honchos have tried to evade the mandate of
Prop 209, the 1996 voter initiative that ended
affirmative action. There was something of a
scandal in 2003 when it was revealed that the
University had admitted unqualified students. But
judging from the walk-around-the-campus test, there are
few non-Asian diverse students these days.
Nevertheless, tribe advocacy organizations like
Chinese for Affirmative Action continue to pursue
benefits. They shamelessly claim victimhood, even
though Asians have an average
median household income 117 percent that of white
households and Asian students are succeeding brilliantly
And, as I type away in my third-floor home office,
when I hear a foreign language spoken outside it isn`t
Chinese, but Spanish. Not by the neighbors, but by
roofers up at treetop level. The Dot-Com bubble
brought in a gaggle of
foreign workers who never left. Berkeley used to
have a lot of hippie gardeners who liked working outside
in an unstressful gig, But I haven`t seen any since the
Mexicans with business cards arrived en masse.
(Those paper items go straight to my recycling bin.)
Berkeley the city might continue to muddle along in
its goofy and
often obnoxious left-wing way. But it cannot escape
being a part of California. The refusal of Sacramento to
deal responsibly with the budget is filtering down
already. The pain has only just begun. The
state`s leaders intend to cause distress to the
point where voters will ask for higher taxes. And
too much in bed with Mexico to cut the
welcoming to illegal aliens that figure largely in
budget deficit as well as the
worsening failure of schools.
No borders, no peace. America cannot welcome
myriads, dysfunction and functional alike, without
splattering the shreds of social fabric we have left.
Brenda Walker (email
her) lives in Northern California and publishes
ImmigrationsHumanCost.org. she recently
re-registered as a Republican in order to vote for
Duncan Hunter, so her Berkeley Democrat cred is shot
full of holes. (She has always been pro-gun and
pro-border as well as pro-tree anyway.)